The end of summer and months after, a period known as the ‘Rentrée’ (back-to-school) in France, is set to be very costly for both Europe as a whole and France. Even more so when, for the past few months, purchasing power has become the single biggest concern for populations across the continent.

The rise of inflation, particularly due to the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the war in Ukraine, is weighing on both the morale and consumption habits of French households. Research shows that in the G7, average real income fell the most in France, (-1.9%) in the first quarter of 2022.

The French economy has already been shaken, before the summer, by numerous conflicts around wage negotiations and a national social movement has been announced for September 29th, with the main demand being an adequate increase in wages.

Not responding to this emergency will be politically costly, with the recently reelected President Emmanuel Macron knowing this all too well.

That is why his government and party have tried to address the issue by having Parliament adopt a package of measures to improve the purchasing power before the Rentrée: the ‘Macron bonus’, that allows companies to offer a tax-free bonus to their employees, was tripled, a 30-cent rebate on the price of fuel was decided upon, and an exceptional back-to-school grant for the families with the lowest incomes is being enacted.

But will this be enough to avoid a social conflagration like the one the UK has been experiencing recently? Nothing is certain. And this is all before heating and energy expenses are predicted to explode this fall.

The political and economic context of the 2022 Rentrée is highly complex, with Macron’s party losing an absolute majority in the National Assembly last June, meaning he has no choice but to make compromises on all his projects. The left-wing opposition is calling for an exceptional tax on the “super-profits” of certain companies, taking up a proposal by UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres already implemented by other countries like Spain or the UK.

Mid-sized companies and SMEs could well be worst affected by 2022’s Rentrée period due to unpredictable struggles with factors such as supply chain management and recruitment.

Given this difficult and uncertain economic context, now more than ever companies must find the right support when it comes to helping build trusted relationships. This is vital for interactions with trade unions and like-minded organisations, as well as with elected politicians, at both the top of the government and at a local level.